Panther and Wolf (Hyou To Ookami) by Yuji Nakazato and Makoto Katayama is manga aimed for World War II diorama fans or hobbies. It’s a manga about tank battles in Europe on 1944-45 where there war between German against Soviet, later German, Soviet and United States.
The story involved around a group of German tanker under command Lt. Wolfgang ‘Wolf’ Guderian who manned a Panther tank call sign 123. They met a Rumanian resistance girl named Origa in their mission at Eastern front when they in middle trouble escaping from Soviet heavy tank in 1944. Wolf’s group and Origa decided to help each other and managed to destroy their enemy tank through battle tactic and sharp shot of her gunnery skill.
Then the story changed into Ardennes battlefield at the brick of collapse Germany in 1945. Wolf’s panther once again saved by Origa when they surrounded by US tanks. Although they escaped the battle, their received communication indicated they must moved to Eastern front to help Berlin defenses. Origa tags along with them acted as radioman in the tank. Wolf’s group later decided to defect into US forces realized German already lost in the war. Accidently, they met Lt. Bock Kriemhilde, an SS officer who in secret mission to deliver secret negotiation document to 3rd US Army for German surrendered term.
However, the document was far important than anyone can anticipated. As result, the group were chased by Soviet and German tank groups. They managed to reach US front lines and asked for assistance of US Army. Therefore, the last biggest tank battle in Europe erupted….
Enough about it’s spoiler, I am going to review it now. I am getting a lot of knowledge about tank warfare when I finished reading this manga. The writer came up with an idea to described tank battle engagement at World War II. Meanwhile, the artist drew excellent detail of each tank, aircraft, motorcycle and background of rural country in eastern and western Europe at that time. I got a feeling I ever saw several panels (drawing page) in the manga similar to some World War II dioramas or catalogues in Japanese hobby shop on Indonesia several years ago. However, I cannot verified it.
Each tank in Hyou To Ookami is completed describe and draw in detail with some information about it’s armament and armor. For example, Panther tank, Tiger tank, King Tiger, Panzer IV, Stalin JS-2, T-34, JS-3 mark III, M4 ‘Sherman’, M36 ‘Jackson’ and M-26 ‘Pershing’. Meanwhile, the manga also mentioned ‘Kettenkrad’ (halftrack motorcycle). In other hand, some aircraft model in WWII also showed in this manga such as, P-47 ‘Thunderbolt’ and German bomber, Heinkell He-177 ‘Greif’.
This manga also remind me about a PC game named Company of Heroes CoH series released by Relic Entertainment in 2007. The game involved Allied versus German battle strategy where some tanks in this manga can be played in the game. So anyone who interested in World War II strategy after reading Panther and Wolf manga should try the game too. Ups, kind of promotion here….
Some interesting fact inside this manga. There are some historical character mentioned in it’s plot story. Such as, Joseph Stalin, Hitler, Himmler, General George Patton, and also the main character, Lt. Wolfgang Guderian, probably picked up from historical person named General Hans Guderian.
Hyou To Ookami is good, informative and easy manga to read. Its only one volume and isn’t a thick manga too. However, it’s first chapter about plot in 1944 is too short then the plot jump into main story in 1945 until the end of manga. Its probably beause the writer want to focus all out tank battle which involved German, US and Soviet where 1945 setting more suitable for this purpose.
Next, some information about war machines incomplete and poorly translated in this manga. The Kettenkard has been classified as halftrack truck, it should a halftrack motorcycle. The M36 tank translated as M367 lead into confusion in reader. I bet some miniature hobby fans smiled when realized this kind of mistake. I don’t know if they are result of poor translation or incomplete information in Indonesia version.
I already tried search in web about Hyou To Okami manga but I cannot find complete information about this manga. It seems western reader don’t particularly interesting in this of manga. Too bad. The only reference I used about this manga information came from Baka-Updates Manga. I also had been search M&C website, the indonesia publisher whose publish this manga in here but they seemed didn’t update their website so there no summary about this manga too.
In conclusion, I am really enjoyed reading this kind manga and its rare to find a manga related to japanese hobbies kit which coincident to my interest field. This manga should read by people who like build diorama kit. I hope this kind of manga genre also get more published in Indonesia on the future too.